Ford Ranger Raptor pick-up review

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

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Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Ford's Ranger Raptor underlines its status as the ultimate performance pick-up in this second generation guise. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

If you've ever daydreamed just how much of a hoot it would be to race along off road trails in the way that competition drivers do on the Paris-Dakar or Baja Rallies, then you're in good company: Ford thought it would be fun too and over the years has tasked its 'Performance' department with creating ultimate Ranger Raptor derivatives able to do just that. This is the second generation model and there's nothing else quite like it.

Background

If you know anything about American pick-up trucks, you'll know about the Ford Raptor, a huge US light truck based on the Blue Oval brand's enormous F150 model and powered by a wild engine from the Ford GT supercar. The company didn't think that vehicle would work over here, but in 2018 they built some of its technology into a more Euro-friendly Ford Performance pick-up, the Ranger Raptor, and it sold so well that this second generation model followed in 2022.

Having proved the market potential of an extreme performance pick-up, the brand has now given it more of the extreme performance the original version rather lacked. The old model's Bi-turbo 2.0-litre diesel is still available, but sales are now centred around a 488PS 3.0-litre EcoBoost petrol V6. As before though, this vehicle isn't built for straight line tarmac speed. Instead, Ford has completely redesigned the suspension of this pick-up so that it can be driven at previously unheard-of speeds of rough terrain.

Driving Experience

The old Ranger Raptor's party trick was the way it could 'float' over lumpy surfaces at speed. This one builds upon that attribute, thanks to dampers further developed by US motorsport specialist Fox. These feature what's called 'live valve' technology, are adaptive for compression and have given Ford's engineers a wider window for tuning ride and handling. Under the bonnet, the emphasis this time round is on a twin turbo 3.0-litre EcoBoost V6 petrol engine, tuned by Ford Performance to produce 292PS and a thumping 491Nm of torque. This unit features a race-bred anti-lag system first developed for Ford's GT supercar and of course it sounds hugely better than the previous 213PS 2.0-litre diesel (which continues for those still wanting it).

On the move, engine sound is something you can alter in volume and timbre by cycling through the seven drive modes, four dedicated to off road driving and three for tarmac use. 'Baja' is the loudest, most anti-social and most appealing of these, intended for rapid off-terrain use. Lower speed off road stuff is dealt with by three other settings; 'Rock Crawl', 'Sand' and 'Mud/Ruts'. The Raptor's 4WD system has the usual 2H, 4H and 4L modes, plus an extra 4A setting for better 4WD activation on sealed surfaces. Unlike an ordinary Ranger, this one also has a locking front differential too.

It's a lot more capable on road too, thanks to tweaked, sharper steering and a revised, lightened version of the 10-speed auto gearbox carried over from the previous generation model, which you can activate with steering wheel shifters. You might find this pick-up a challenge in town though; at 2,028mm wide, the Ranger Raptor is 110mm wider than a standard Ranger, so tight supermarket parking slots could prove as much of a challenge as the Rubicon Trail.

Design and Build

Ford says that everything designed for the Ranger Raptor 'is there for a reason', the idea being 'to communicate what the Raptor can do by the way it looks'. You decide. Flared fenders cover muscular 17-inch wheels wrapped in Raptor-exclusive performance all-terrain tyres. Functional air vents, aero features and tough, grippy cast aluminium side rails add extra pavement presence. And at the rear, LED tail lights with a more distinctive signature sit above a 'Precision Grey'-finished bumper that features an integrated step pad and a towbar tucked up high to avoid compromising the departure angle.

Inside, there are jet fighter-inspired sports seats for extra cornering support. And a 'Code Orange' accent theme on the instrument panel, the seats and the dash trim is mirrored by the amber ambient lighting. You get a leather sports heated steering wheel with thumb swells, an on-centre marker and cast-magnesium paddle shifters. Plus there's a 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster. The centre infotainment monitor is now bigger and much better than anything found in any other pick-up - 12-inches in size, with 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring, plus a 10-speaker B&O sound system. This SYNC4A display has a dedicated screen view for off-roading, providing information on steering angle, vehicle pitch, driveline and roll angles. The gearstick's been changed for a short-throw 'e-shifter': and there's now an electronic parking brake too.

Rear seat space from the doublecab body is OK, but not very much different from the previous generation model. What's different is that for this model, the bench has been reshaped for extra cornering support. Air vents are included, as is a fold-down armrest with cupholders and you get 'Code Orange' trimming, ISOFIX childseat attachments and storage bins beneath the seat bases.

Market and Model

At the time of this test in Summer 2023, Ford was asking just under £60,000 for this second generation Ranger Raptor in this 3.0 V6 EcoBoost petrol form with 292PS. And just over £56,500 in 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel 210PS guise. Either way, options include the 'Raptor Splash Decal Pack' (£600) and an exterior 'Raptor Pack' (£1,860), which includes a cab roll over bar and power roll top Tonneau cover. Signature 'Code Orange' premium paint will cost £720. Customers can build and price their Ranger Raptor using the automaker's online configurator, choosing from colour options including Arctic White, Blue Lightning and Code Orange, and features such as functional load bars and roller shutters are of course available. As with other Rangers, customers for this one can additionally choose from a range of over 150 fully factory-backed work, urban and adventure accessories. These include those developed in collaboration with global off-road icon, ARB 4x4 Accessories.

Like other pricier Ranger models, this one comes with cutting-edge voice-activated communications, entertainment and information systems. Additionally, there's an embedded factory-fitted FordPass Connect modem, allowing connectivity on the go when linked with the FordPass app, so customers can stay connected to their world. FordPass enhances the ownership experience with features like Remote Start, Vehicle Status, and remote lock and unlock functions via a mobile device.

Practicalities and Costs

As before, the bespoke Fox suspension fitment comes with two significant twin downsides. First, a major reduction in towing capacity - down 1,000kgs on the 2.5-tonne total of an ordinary Ranger. And second, an equally significant reduction in payload - to just 717kg, far below what most operators would expect of a working pick-up. Sales of the first generation Ranger Raptor suggested that most likely owners didn't care much about these deficiencies and there are even more reasons to overlook those issues this time round.

Particularly as customers should find this version more practical than its predecessor. Thanks to the 50mm increase in track, the cargo area will now take a full-sized pallet and you can load in a ply sheet flat. There are slots moulded into the bed liner which allow you to make your own load dividers. And Ford continues to offer its 'Cargo Management' system. Removable protective capping prevents excess damage to the tailgate when lifting bikes in and out.

There are some clever touches too. Dual-battery capability allows owners to add a leisure battery under the bonnet for camping trips - and for power tools, which can be connected via a 400w inverter with an AC outlet in the load bed. And there's a neat Zone Lighting System that allows you to turn on individual exterior lights for night activities. The tailgate can be converted into a workbench which has a built in ruler and onto which there's a facility for clamping planks of wood.

As for efficiency, well for the 3.0 V6 EcoBoost model, you'll need to pay for your pleasures; combined economy is 20.5mpg and CO2 emissions are up at 315g/km. Go for the old 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel engine and the efficiency figures will be much as they were for the previous generation model - for reference, these were 26.4mpg and 281g/km.

Summary

There's absolutely no point in buying a Ranger Raptor if you never try it at speed off road. But when you do, what this Ford can achieve is absolutely astonishing. Other powerful pick-ups would simply shake themselves to pieces trying to keep up. As a result, the brand says that this model 're-writes the rulebook for ultimate off road performance' - and there's some truth in that.

It'll take you to places that only the most capable off roaders will go and this second generation model will now travel there far quicker than any of them. In short, it's an off-road sports car - and the perfect addition to a millionaire's garage already full of supercars and extreme sports saloons. You don't need a Ranger Raptor but if you're a car enthusiast, we're guessing that like us, you'd really, really like one. It's wild, it's unusual and it's unique. As every Ford Performance model should be.

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